My wife and I have had a couple of upgrades in the past but this was to be our first return trip in Business Class proper. She had been dropping hints for a while about wanting to see the pyramids and as I did not fancy going I had been making excuses and been getting away with it for ages but time was running out for excuses so when I saw that there was a KLM miles offer which would allow us to fly to Cairo in Business Class and back for the same amount of miles as Economy I saw it as too good an offer to miss.
Saturday 14th October
KLM 1476 GLA-AMS
ETD 14.05 Actual 14.05
ETA 16.50 Actual 16.30
Europe Select Class. Seats 2E and 2F
Our flight to AMS was due to leave at 2.05pm so I phoned the taxi firm at 11.25am to order the cab and hauled the luggage down the two flights of stairs to be ready to go when the car arrived. It was a beautiful still Scottish sunny morning and the first signs of autumn were beginning to show on the trees and a slight chill was in the air and to be honest I would have been just as happy staying and holidaying at home, packing the tent and heading for the hills in this weather, but I knew it wouldn't last.
As we live about seven miles out under the flight path of Runway 23 at GLA we do not have too far to travel to the airport. Within five minutes the taxi appeared from the end of our road and soon our luggage was loaded and we were on our way and my feelings about holidaying at home under the stars were soon gone. It was a good feeling to be going through the Clyde tunnel again as the only time I seem to be in it is when we are travelling to the airport.
At 11.50am we were unloading the luggage outside the terminal and were soon through the doors to the main check-in area which was very busy as it was the start of the autumn school holidays.
We had a wait of ten minutes for the KLM desk to open by which time a large queue had formed but we made our way to the front to the priority check-in desk to be met by a not very cheery girl who had forgotten to put her smile on that morning. She didn't even bother to say good afternoon, great first impression of flying Business Class I thought. After handing over our electronic tickets her first words were "you have already checked in" mystified I said no, and after a few minutes of silence and tagging our luggage she handed over our boarding cards for the two flights and informed us that we would be boarding at Gate 31, she forgot or chose not to bother saying "have a pleasant flight".
After a visit to the Travelex counter to collect pre ordered Egyptian pounds and a quick look round the shops we headed through security which wasn't as busy as I thought it would be.After being asked to take my shoes off and the wife being frisked we were through in no time and heading for the KLM lounge.
As the International Departure Hall was crammed solid with passengers it was a blessing to be in the quiet sanctuary of the lounge and as there were only a handful of people inside it felt spacious and relaxed.
We spent a lovely hour, reading, drinking and nibbling before heading outside to the real world again and made our way with difficulty through the masses to Gate 31.There were a lot of flights leaving that day with the main ones having already left to New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Orlando and still lots to Spain and elsewhere in Europe as well as the Emirates 777 to Dubai.
As the Emirates flight was boarding at 31 I enquired and was told that we would be boarding at Gate 32 which was showing as a Zoom departure, we were met by our blonde dour check-in girl again who was processing the boarding cards, she took mine and muttered something so I just ignored her (we all have bad days ,if she had even said to me "look I have been having a bad day and don't feel too good" I would understand but her attitude stank).
A short walk downstairs and out onto the apron to board our little F**ker 70
The seats were cramped and as we were in 2E and 2F which were a window and middle of a row of three with a stranger in the aisle seat it felt even worse, layout was more like a lowco than a Business Class cabin. The flight was full in Business as well as in Economy but boarding was quick and bang on schedule we pushed back at 14.05pm.On our way to runway 23 we passed the Emirates 777 don't they look good?
We lifted off Scottish soil at 14.15 and as some low cloud had rolled in since the morning (I knew it wouldn't last) it wasn't long before any views were gone.
The cheery FA was soon doing the rounds with the snack, I didn't expect much catering on this flight and I wasn't disappointed as we were given an inedible soft roll and cheese with some kind of cake thing , I left both.
The flight deck informed us that it was to be a fast flight today of one hour fifteen minutes and I thanked god as it was very claustrophobic indeed with no room to swing a cat.
Coffee soon followed and then drinks and I had a Bombay Saphire with tonic which lifted my spirits. Second drinks were also offered but I declined as I had a long day ahead (see we Scots aren't all boozers you know). I desperately needed a pee but as I would have caused disruption trying to get out from my window seat I decided to keep it in till AMS.
Soon we were descending and when I looked out of the window I could see the Dutch coast through the cloud and after a couple of turns we were on final approach then touchdown at 16.30.
We taxied to a remote stand and after a short bus ride were in the terminal with me desperately seeking a toilet, without any problems I got one and was glad to be aiming at that fly again, ah bliss at last I could empty my bladder which was very full by now. When I came out the wife was waiting and suggesting I see a doctor as she thought I had taken too long "your at a funny age you know". I just looked at her speechless.
We had over four hours to kill at AMS which wasn't a problem as I had some duty free shopping to do as well as trying to keep the wife away from the duty free shopping!! Actually she was very good and only bought two bottles of perfume and they were in an offer of buy one get one free, what a result.
I saw on the screen that our CAI flight was leaving from Gate E5 and a quick look outside saw that it was on stand already.
Happily we both made our way to one of the Crown lounges and after showing our boarding cards were let in to the inner sanctum and choose some nice seats by the window. She went and helped herself to some food and drink then I went off to find the smoking section which was more palatial than the rest of the lounge.
After I had a couple of draught beers and some soup we moved over to some comfier seats.
We people watched for a time and tried to guess where people were going or who they were with?
KL 553 AMS-CAI
PH-BQB Boeing 777-200
ETD 20.45 Actual 20.45
ETA 01.05 Actual 00.55
World Business Class- Seats 3A and 3C
Soon it was 19.50 and after a look at the screen saw that boarding was starting at Gate E5 which thankfully was a short walk away I was tempted to go for another quick pee but the wife had given me a complex by now.
We had another security check to go through at the gate and as we had missed the priority boarding had a bit of a wait to get on.
We were welcomed on board and had to turn left to enter the Business section and found our seats of 3A and 3C and I let the wife take the window seat as it was now dark and there would be nothing to see.
She seemed to be happy with her seat.
The FA came with our amenity kits
Then offered us our menus and headsets as well as a choice of welcome drinks, I took champagne and then realised that I still don't really like it.
There were only a few empty seats in Business and eventually the doors were closed and we pushed back, bang on time again at 20.45.
It didn't seem to take long before we were powering down the runway and lifting off smoothly.
The captain informed us that the flying time would be four hours and our route would take us over Munich, Dubrovnik and Athens before heading for Cairo.
Another drinks round soon followed with bowls of nuts, a bag of crisps would do me to be honest.
I started to inspect the seat and found it okay for comfort but there does seem to be a slight forward pitch to it when in the upright position and after playing with the automatic controls for a while found a nice position. As it would be a relatively short flight I could not give a fair report on it's comfort but it felt okay for me.
I was interrupted from my messing about trying to figure out how to get the screen out from the seat - which my wife found quite amusing - by the FA handing out the rather hot towels which was the signal for dinner to be served.
Taken from the rather nicely designed menu.
Scallops served with a crab and asparagus salad and raspberry dressing
Braised beef with truffle sauce served with hazelnut potato puree and a broccoli timbale.
Pike perch with apple syrup,mashed potato with rocket and a fennel and tomato compote.
Roasted chicken served with creamy fetteccuni and walnuts baby, shitake compote and pak choy.
A coconut and raspberry tart with whipped cream and a cheese plate of Old Amsterdam and Moulin Blue garnished with blue grapes.
Sauvignon Blanc 2005
Clos Mont-Blanc Chardonnay 2005
Chateu Carignan Prima 2003
Palazzo Antinori 2000
Chateau de la Peyrade
The appetiser was lovely and fresh giving fantastic flavours in the mouth.
It was so good I took another picture.
Main course next and as usual I chose wrongly, like jumping the queues at the supermarket I always end up choosing the wrong line looking on with envy at other peoples decisions as they quickly get checked out and I am left behind some poor old soul. I took the beef and should have taken the chicken but such is life.The guy on the other side of the aisle had the beef and wolfed it down so maybe I was getting tired but it did taste to me just like one of those cheap microwave meals from the supermarket or maybe I had been spoilt by the standard of the appetiser.
I had another fill of the lovely Chateu Carignan Prima 2003, I am no wine expert but it was delicious.
By this time I was getting tired and I could not really enjoy the dessert and cheese as I wasn't really hungry although it was well presented and adequate.
Service was excellent and I can give only praise for the service especially when I was served with several cups of fresh ground coffee which although not piping hot, was tasty.
After dinner the lights were dimmed so I had a look at the AVOD system which was super with enough on it to keep your attention for many hours. I was too tired to concentrate on any one thing so flicked through it. I paid a visit to the toilet (whilst the wife was sleeping) and found it all so very clean with a range of beauty products to keep the women happy.
A bottle of mineral water was placed on everyone's side table whether sleeping or not and another round of hot towels were handed out.
I was nodding off when the lights were switched on as we were starting our descent to Cairo.
Before long all the cabin's occupants were upright and the FA's were collecting the headsets and handing out the Delft Pottery KLM houses which every Business Class passenger gets which is rather nice.
We were now getting a view of the lights of Cairo. Feelings of trepidation and excitement started to enter my head as is always the case when visiting a new country especially arriving at that time of night.
Soon we felt the thud as we touched down on Egyptian soil and slowly exited the runway to find our stand at Terminal 1 which is the newer terminal.
Our Business Class cabin was disembarked first which doesn't make all that much difference in Cairo as it was to be another hour before we could exit the terminal. First call is for a visa which is a bit of a scramble after filling out a form which is like a contest between passengers to see who can fill it out first and join the queue then a long wait to get it stamped. Eventually we get through to the baggage hall to find our two bags have arrived safely and make our way outside to be met by an annoying amount of taxi touts (a sign of things to come). We ask an important looking uniformed man who gladly assists us by radioing our hotel shuttle bus to come and we can finally relax in the early morning heat.
Would I pay three times the economy fare to fly World Business Class? Not really, the GLA-AMS leg on that little F**ker 70 was terrible, offset to some extent by the benefits of priority check-in and use of the lounge at GLA.
The use of lounge at AMS is beneficial if you have a few hours to pass .The AMS-CAI leg wasn't really long enough to justify paying extra although on board -the extra room and service was very enjoyable although a night flight prevents you from really enjoying it through tiredness.
I can only give praise to the KLM FA's, all were very professional and looked after everyone's needs and were as good as I have had with BA in the past.
The food was okay but nothing special but the ambiance of having it served in crockery and on a tablecloth is nice along with the attention.
All in all I can have no complaints except for the blonde check-in girl at GLA who certainly did not get things off to a good start-hope you bring your smile and charm to work next time we meet.
Thanks for taking the time to read my first trip report.The return leg will follow in due course.